Top tips for Air Conditioner Maintenance

A smoothly running air conditioner during hot weather keeps your household running smoothly, too. Here are some simple maintenance tips to prevent problems from creeping up and overheating you and your family.

Change the Filter

Your AC filter needs changing often as most units require monthly filter checks. A dirty air filter means air cannot flow as well through the unit, putting out less cool air and making your house uncomfortable. Locate the filter on the indoor HVAC unit; it will be at or near the large air return duct. Open the door and remove the old filter and replace it with a new, clean filter. Match the air-flow direction arrows on the filter and the unit, then close the door. That’s all it takes.

Clean the Outside Unit

Shut off the power to your air conditioning unit before going outside to clean debris. Lift the fan cage out the way, then remove leaves, twigs, or other debris. A shop-style vacuum works great if you have one. Next, use a garden hose to remove debris from the fins on the unit. Just use gentle pressure, not power washing. Straighten any fins that seem bent using a butter knife or fin tool. Then put the unit back together and clean around the outside. Clear any vegetation nearer than two feet around the unit to help air flow properly.

Check the Condensate Line

While outside, check the condensate line. It’s the PVC pipe that sticks out of the unit. Water forms when the warm air passes over the evaporator coils. If the line is not properly maintained, water backs up and spills over causing costly problems. Excess water also causes structural damage to your home and leads to mold growth and possible health problems. Check your condensate line on the outdoor unit. If it’s badly clogged, call your HVAC professional for cleaning. In fact, annual or biannual professional maintenance contracts are the best way to keep your unit running efficiently and properly.

Check Your Thermostat

If your system runs continuously, yet your house does not feel cool, check the thermostat. Make sure the system is at the correct temperature and setting. Set the temperature at five degrees lower than normal and see if the air conditioner comes on. If not, it is time to call a professional HVAC technician.

Sign an Annual Maintenance Contract

Air conditioning units need an annual check-up. The best time to schedule that service is in the spring before the weather heats up. A professional technician checks the ducts, coils, filters, and other parts making sure your AC is ready for summer. Replacing worn out parts before the unit breaks down is better than waiting until the hottest day of the year and finding out your unit won’t work. So schedule at least one maintenance call per year.

Regular cleaning and maintenance help your air conditioner run properly and efficiently when you need it. So follow these steps and enjoy your cool and comfortable home.

Image via Flickr by KOMUnews

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